The year’s end is all about light – light that goes out and the light that reappears as the Earth leaps back from the bottom of its ellipsis towards the sun. Ever since humans became self-aware this change has been marked as a rebirth and the signal of the New Year. Since Julius Caesar the New Year has fallen in January, at Christmas for Christians, and is celebrated in February in much of Asia. At the behest of Catherine de Medici the New Year has fallen on 1st January since 1564. It is for that reason that you will find Ballet de la Royne on this playlist, to which one of the first New Year’s Eve celebrations was dedicated.
Let’s begin with morning light, starting with the fingers of Christophe Guida – France’s latest organ star – playing two chorales by Krebs, Bach’s favourite pupil. I have paired them with a few cantatas intended to celebrate the New Year, and of course not forgetting Handel’s Messiah. Bach, a fervent Lutheran, gave people back the joy of choral hymn singing. This legacy returned to us three centuries later in the America of gospel music and Christmas crooners. Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, and Stevie Wonder are still the greats.
New Year’s Eve, snow and bubbles, drinking allowed, hugs recommended. It’s time to disco and party with the Pet Shop Boys, Bernstein, Armstrong and many other happy few. So happy New Year as we burst into the new light!